SEATTLE– Two touches. That’s all it took for Nicolas Lodeiro to provide a goal and an assist on Sunday. And that bit of class gave the Seattle Sounders a desperately needed 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake in front of 39,491 at CenturyLink Field.
Lodeiro opened the scoring in the 24th minute, collecting a short pass from Andreas Ivanschitz and slapping a one-touch shot past goalkeeper Nick Rimando from 12 yards out. The Uruguayan designated player nearly doubled the lead in the 34th minute, volleying a loose ball just wide of the left post.
Jordan Morris headed in the second goal in the 38th minute, after Clint Dempsey found Lodeiro alone along the left touchline. The 27 year old promptly whipped in a cross that found Morris charging through the penalty area for the 2-0 lead. It was Lodeiro’s third assist in as many games, and a team-leading eighth goal of the season for Morris.
The win still leaves the Sounders sitting in ninth place in the ever-tough Western Conference. They are, however, undefeated (2-0-1) since signing Lodeiro, have games in hand on most teams above them, and are finally scoring goals. They trail the Portland Timbers by five points for the final playoff spot, and face the Timbers twice in the next two weeks.
Real Salt Lake pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute after Yura Movsisyan intercepted a lax throw from goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Movsisyan, a halftime substitute, then found Joao Plata, who coolly finished into an empty net.
Referree Kevin Stott awarded the Sounders an 80th-minute penalty kick after Justen Glad brought down Cristian Roldan in the penalty area, but Clint Dempsey thudded the ensuing shot off the crossbar. Moments later Rimando delivered a diving save on a Roldan shot.
The visitors never seriously threatened to equalize down the stretch.
The Sounders (8-12-3, 27 points) were on the front foot from the start. Dempsey broke through the back line in just the ninth minute, but a heavy first touch ruined the chance. Moments later a Morris header off a corner kick narrowly missed the upper left corner.
Real Salt Lake (10-8-7, 37 points) entered the match having won two of three after a six-game winless streak. One bright spot for the visitors was the return of Movsisyan, who leads the club with seven goals. The 28-year-old designated player made his first appearance since straining his hip in late July.
Looking forward, both teams are back in action next weekend. The Sounders host the Timbers (8-9-8, 32 points), while Real Salt Lake hosts FC Dallas (13-6-6, 45 points).
MAN OF THE MATCH
Lodeiro. Lodeiro. Lodeiro. The diminutive Uruguayan has turned everything around for the Sounders in just three matches.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
What else? Lodeiro’s first career goal in Major League Soccer.
MATCH TO FORGET
RSL’s central defense, which left both Ivanschitz and Lodeiro alone on the opening goal and was beaten by Morris on the second. After giving up a penalty kick, Glad then picked up a stoppage-time yellow card that could have easily been a straight red.